The real–time digital storage oscilloscope (DSO) combines all the functionality of a traditional benchtop oscilloscope with all the benefits of a PC. Regular scope users will feel at home with the usual timebase, trigger options, and so on, but will welcome the advantages of other useful features.
Getting started with PicoScope is easy thanks to Auto Setup — PicoScope’s one–click set up feature. Just click the Auto Setup button and PicoScope will search for a signal on one of the enabled input channels and then automatically set up the timebase and signal range to display the signal correctly.
The Custom Probes manager is an easy–to–use wizard that lets you quickly add a new probe or sensor. Once you have defined a new probe, simply select it from the drop–down list and PicoScope will use it.
Zoom-in and capture every last detail
The PicoScope zoom function lets you take a closer look at the fine detail on your signals. Using simple point–and–click tools you can quickly zoom–in on both axes and reveal every last detail of the signal, whilst the undo zoom function lets you return to the previous view.
The screenshots below show a video waveform that was captured using a PicoScope 5204. Using the power of the PicoScope zoom function, the time axis is magnified up to 50,000 times. Every detail of the signal can be seen.
Resolution enhancement is a technique for increasing the effective vertical resolution of the scope at the expense of high-frequency detail. Selecting resolution enhancement does not change the scope’s sampling rate or the amount of data available.
Resolution enhancement is available for all Pico USB Oscilloscopes using the PicoScope 6 software and adds up to 4 bits to the effective resolution of a scope. For example, it can boost the effective resolution of a PicoScope 5203 or 5204 from 8 bits to 12 bits, and the 12–bit PicoScope 3224 and 3424 high–resolution scopes can deliver up to 16 effective bits.
Store up to 10,000 waveforms in the buffer
Ever spotted a glitch on a waveform, but by the time you’ve stopped the scope it has gone? With PicoScope you no longer need to worry about missing glitches or other transient events. Depending on the model of oscilloscope and the settings, PicoScope can store up to the last ten thousand waveforms in its buffer.
When you click the Start button or change a capture setting, PicoScope clears the buffer and then adds a new waveform to it every time the oscilloscope captures data. If you manage to completely fill the waveform buffer PicoScope will use the first in, first out principle to ensure that the buffer always contains the latest waveforms. Once you have stopped capturing data, you can then review each captured waveform to find the event you want. You can also save the whole buffer and examine it at a later date.
When the number of pixels across the scope view is greater than the number of samples in the waveform buffer, PicoScope interpolates — that is, it fills the space between the samples with estimated data. PicoScope includes sin(x)/x interpolation which calculates points between the samples to display a smooth waveform on the screen. Using sin(x)/x it is possible to produce an accurate display of a high–frequency waveform using very few samples.
Continuous streaming mode is a sampling mode in which the oscilloscope samples data and returns it to the computer in an unbroken stream. This mode allows the capture of data sets whose size is not limited by the size of the scope’s memory buffer, at sampling rates up to a few million samples per second.
Rapid trigger mode
Rapid trigger mode is is a way of capturing a sequence of waveforms with minimal ‘dead time’ between them. In this mode, PicoScope saves time by delaying the display update until the entire sequence has been captured. After capture, you can scroll through the waveforms in the usual way using the buffer navigation buttons.
With rapid trigger mode you can capture a sequence of intermittent events with less risk of missing one while the trigger is being re–armed. Rapid trigger mode is currently compatible with PicoScope 4000 and 5000 Series oscilloscopes.
With advanced triggering you can capture a stable waveform even with complex signals. Oscilloscopes that are capable of advanced triggering are ideal for troubleshooting glitches, timing violations, overvoltages and dropouts in analogue and digital circuits.
Depending on what PicoScope Oscilloscope you use, up to eight advanced trigger types are available:
- Advanced edge trigger
- Window trigger
- Pulse width trigger
- Interval trigger
- Window pulse width trigger
- Level dropout trigger
- Window dropout trigger
- Logic trigger
You can apply a digital low-pass filter to each channel independently. This can be used to reject noise and reduce jitter, resulting in cleaner waveforms and more accuate measurements. PicoScope lets you set the cut–off frequency of the low–pass filter so that you can control exactly how the signal is filtered.
The split screenshot below shows the effect of applying a 1 kHz low–pass filter on a noisy signal. The underlying shape of the signal is preserved but the high-frequency noise is eliminated:
Left: original signal, right: signal with 1 kHz low–pass filtering
With PicoScope 6 you can have multiple views of the same data, with individual zoom, pan and filter settings for each view. This effectively gives you a multi–screen oscilloscope that can be customised to show whatever combinations of channels you want and, as the example below shows, can even show both oscilloscope and spectrum analyzer traces at once.
With PicoScope you can display stored waveforms alongside live traces. You can apply all the same functions to the reference waveforms as you can to live waveforms, such as automatic and manual measurements, scaling and offset, and exporting to a file. Reference waveforms are especially useful for production testing and diagnostics, where they allow you to compare waveforms from the equipment under test with known good waveforms.
If you have lots of input channels, reference channels and math channels enabled, it can take time to move them around and scale them so that they are all clearly visible. By right–clicking on a view and selecting Auto–arrange axes, all the traces are automatically rearranged so that none of them overlap.
PicoScope features both colour printing and a black and white printing mode. With just the click of a button you can produce high–quality printouts of your waveforms.
Easy data export
With PicoScope you can save both your captured waveforms and your oscilloscope settings. These can be opened on any PC running PicoScope. Great if you need to repeat tests, use multiple PCs, or share your waveforms with others.
You can also export the captured data in various formats — including CSV and text, graphical formats such as PNG and GIF and in binary format as a MATLAB 4 file.
Additionally, you can use the Copy as Image or Copy as Text feature to copy the active view to the Windows clipboard. You can then simply paste the image or text into a suitable application.